Goals are an important part of running. There's no way around it. And I guess it's a big part of life as well. Everyone needs goals to keep moving forward and bettering yourself. Right...?
And then there's the other side of the tracks where there's a group of folks who "keep expectations low - this way you're never disappointed." Though this thought process is the epitome of the slacker mentality and often lends itself to not quite the respect that the other camp of thought - there may actually be some truth to it.
Everyone wants to lose 10 pounds, qualify for the Olympic trials, Boston, or get chosen by the lottery for whatever race you're trying to get into, PR in every race you run, or maybe get that promotion at work and make more money. While in theory all of these things or events might make you happier or more comfortable financially. These goals may or may not happen for whatever reason outside your control. Each of these kind of goals require work. Without work, it's not a goal at all - it's just a want or a hope. Goals require devotion of a certain amount and a desire to put forth the kind of effort needed to achieve the outcome. So why don't we just set a goal like - I will work harder on ________ in the new year?
The goal is the ultimate target that the work will be geared toward.
I would love to run a 2:05 marathon. Truth. I'd love to break 12 hours for a 100 miler. Also truth. My problem is that I have a difficult time coming up with reasonable goals for myself. Sometimes my goals of the past have been too lofty. Like breaking 20 hours at Western States in 2010 when I had spent the first 4 months pounding pavement skipping across the country. I blew up, I wasn't recovered from the cross country run, and ultimately (basically) crawled across the finish line. Other times my goals haven't been ambitious enough. Take Promised Land 50k this year for example. I went out way too slowly to be competitive and ended up having to catch up 15 places in the last 10 miles of the race barely reaching the top 10.
So where is my happy medium? I'd love to set some goals but with the wedding coming up and a possibility of a drastic scene change shortly after, I don't want to schedule too much for fear that once again, I'll set lofty goals and falling short. So this weekend I have the Willis Creek 50k (formerly Swinging Bridge), the the 8 Hour Adventure Trail Run in February, Terrapin Mountain 50k in March and Massanutten at the end of May. Massanutten will be my main goal for the year as I don't know what the rest of the year will hold for me, and I'd like to do well there. I don't want to publicly state my expectations but I will be training hard for it.